Brent Council ordered to pay £750 compensation to domestic violence victim it let down
18:12 22 September 2016
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Brent Council has been ordered to pay £750 compensation to a domestic violence victim for failing to provide adequate support when she needed to be rehoused for her own safety.
The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has ruled the payment must be made for the distress and anxiety caused by its delays and insensitive handing of her housing needs.
It also ruled a senior manager at the town hall must write directly to the resident to apologise for the way the council treated her at her time of need.
The rulings have been made in a damning report which has slammed the council for their failings when the resident, known as Ms X, fled her home in fear of her life in 2014.
She subsequently lodged a complaint with LGO who ruled in her favour last month.
The resident, who has no dependant children and suffers from stress and depression, sought help from the council after she left her violent partner following years of abuse.
Following the end of her relationship she was subjected to stalking, harassment and threats from her ex who also said he would set fire to her home and harm her elderly father and pet dog.
Several incidents had been reported to police and the victim approached a Woman’s Centre for help which was unable to find her a place in a refuge but appointed her a volunteer to help her find suitable housing.
The victim went to Brent Council’s Housing Options but they failed to offer the protection usually given to victims of domestic violence.
This includes the woman being interviewed in a public office instead of a private room and not being asked to complete a ‘fear of violence form’ until a second visit.
The victim was forced to endure a lengthy process during which time she was given the lowest priority for housing even though she was deemed as ‘high risk’ by the council and requested she be moved out of the borough.
She was eventually referred to Ealing Council which took 11 weeks to make a decision instead of the guideline five days.
She is now under the care of her preferred borough, which has not been named, and has been given the highest priority for housing.
The report stated she is still waiting to be housed as she has turned down several offers she considered unsafe or unsuitable.
Ealing Council were also slammed for failings resulting in her case and ordered to pay her £600.
The victim’s volunteer will also receive £250 compensation from Brent Council.
Cllr Harbi Farah, Brent Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We apologise unreservedly for the maladministration which caused this sort of treatment in 2014, and we fully accept the findings and recommendations of the Ombudsman.
“Clearly, there are lessons learnt since it happened, and we already have taken swift action in providing refresher training on domestic abuse for front-line staff, and have also reviewed the joint-working arrangements across our housing services and those with other boroughs.
“We will continue to take any other action necessary to ensure that there is no repeat of the circumstances of this case.”
You can read the full LGO report by clicking here.